Bariis Iskukaris (Somali Rice with Spices)

Who doesn’t love the aroma of basmati rice laced with cardamom, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, tomatoes and garlic? The heady scent of the spices and the cooking rice always take me back to childhood memories of waiting impatiently for my mother to serve bariis iskukaris.

Bariis iskukaris (sometimes called bariis isku dhexkaris) is the common name Somalis give to rice cooked with spices and the addition of meat or chicken.  In this recipe I have used vegetables instead.

This recipe serves four people. I like to serve bariis isku karis with cadriyaad and a simple salad of sliced tomatoes, onion and chopped chilli. This dish also goes well with Zab roast lamb or roast goat.

NB: You can substitute the vegetables with one small chicken or half a kilogram of diced beef or lamb. Ensure you brown the meat first before adding the tomatoes.

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Bariis Iskukaris (Somali Rice with Spices)

Recipe by:


2 cups of basmati rice or any long grained rice
2 tomatoes diced (optional)
1 large chopped onion
I cinnamon stick
5 cloves
4 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
3 cloves of garlic or 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
4 tablespoons of olive oil or subag (ghee)
1 cup of chopped mixed vegetables such as carrot, peas and corn
2 ½ cups of water
Salt to taste


1. Wash the rice and soak in water
2. Fry the onion until it caramelises
3. Grind the dry spices and add with garlic, cook for a minute allowing the heat of the oil to release the aroma of the spices
4. Add the diced tomatoes, cook until it thickens
5. Add the vegetables and cook until half done
6. Drain the rice and add the water. Cover with the pan with aluminium foil. Ensure the pan is well sealed.
7. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.


Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 - 6 people

30 Responses to “Bariis Iskukaris (Somali Rice with Spices)”

  1. Sacdiyo

    Can you cook without vegetables tomatoes

    • Somali Kitchen

      Hi Sacdiyo, yes you can cook without vegetables and tomatoes. You can add meat of any kind – lamb, chicken, beef instead of vegetables. This is a very versatile dish.

  2. Ahmed

    How can I make the batch of rice including all the veggies, using a rice cooker?

    • Somali Kitchen

      Hi Ahmed, thanks for reaching out. Follow the recipe instructions using a cooking pan and transfer the ingredients to the rice cooker when you are ready to add the rice. Let us know how it turns out.

  3. farhiya

    can I add meat along with all these vegetables?

    • Somali Kitchen

      Absolutely yes! You can add meat (about half a kilogram of either cubed beef, chicken or fish) to the vegetables or just use meat instead of vegetables. Enjoy!

  4. Dannii

    How long do I leave the rice to soak for? Thanks

  5. HANA

    thanks for your recipe. Do i have to also grind the cinnamon stick?

  6. Thunder952

    Thanks for sharing. I will be giving this recipe a try along with some camel meat I bought from the local supermarket. I’m super excited

  7. Mina

    Do youhave to machine grind the cinammon stick, cardammon pods, cumin seeds, and garlic? Or can i just put it in the oil to simmer?
    Also what does 5 cloves mean??

  8. Tsega

    I just made my first Somali dish using this rice recipe. The smell & flavor of the spices are amazing! It turned out really good! My husband & I truly enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing!

    • Somali Kitchen

      Tsega, your comment made our day! We love to hear from people who have tried our recipes and enjoy a taste of Somali food! Try the turmeric rice or pineapple rice – both delicious rice dishes that we hope will bring more joy to your dining table or the macsharo recipe if you want to turn your rice into a cake or pancake. Abderazzaq & Shukri.

  9. Hanifah

    I only have medium grain rice, will it matter ?

  10. Lisa

    I love the sound of this dish and I’m up early to make it. Can you please tell me: when you add the water in step 6, what temperature should the water be? Is it boiling water? If not, do you bring water to a boil and THEN start the approximate 15 minutes of simmering? Thank you so much!

  11. The chosen one

    Hiya! I loved this recipe and will try again with meat next time. Also what did you mean by “salt to taste?” Do you mean that every time it tastes bitter put salt? But thanks anyway I loved it. Shared it with a lot of friends.

    • Somali Kitchen

      Hi. Great to hear you love the recipe. What do we mean by ‘salt to taste’? It is basically adding salt to suit your taste. Some people like little salt others like more. We usually add half a teaspoon of salt and then taste and add a bit more if necessary.

  12. Claire

    Hi, this recipe sounds yummy, cant wait to try it out. I have the ground spices and not whole, how much of each should i use in teaspoons…am a bit confused. Thanks.

  13. Nimo

    Hi dear….I’m make once iskukaris and not give the flavor I want ….I put cinamon and heel. …and I put normal hawaash but still not tasty

  14. Peter


    Are these green or black cardamom pods? Thanks.

  15. Lissa

    If the spices are just going to be ground anyways, then can I just use spices that are ground already? Like ground cardamom, ground cloves, & ground cumin?


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